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Graph of the Day: Hazelwood winds down, last of pre-1970 plants

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The Hazelwood brown coal generator in Victoria – the biggest single polluter in Australia – began winding down its capacity overnight with the closure of one of its eight units at around 2.30am, and another later in the morning.

The process will continue over the next two days, with the final unit due to shut down sometime on Wednesday. Although the first two units were closed, at the time of writing larger units at the other big brown coal generators – Yallourn, Loy Yang A and Loy Yang B – also remained sidelined.

This graph from IT Power’s Ben Elliston sheds an interesting light on the closures of ageing coal generators in Australia.

coalIt shows that with the Hazelwood closure, there will be no coal-fired power stations left that were commissioned before 1970.

Liddell is now the oldest station and is scheduled for retirement in 2022, or earlier if the nearby Tomago smelter closes earlier. While some of the least efficient power stations have been removed, others, such as Yallourn, remain in the system.

“The pace of closures over the past couple of years is unlikely to continue in the short term because
supply is tightening,” says Elliston, who as a researcher with UNSW was a co-author of the one of the most detailed 100 per cent renewable energy scenarios for Australia.

“Policies are still needed to force out the highest emitting stations and to replace their output,” he says.  

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  • Ray Miller

    As Ben Elliston is showing Australia urgently needs an energy strategy which transitions from the old dirty clunkers with thermal efficiency below 30%, quickly. The transition plan also must take into account the human elements of the supporting workforce, with the roll out of the many large renewable and storage projects looks like an opportunity at least looking into.
    As I write this two units HWPS8 and 6 are now zero output, more to follow. In what should be a celebration, it is far from it due to toxic destructive political gaming and lack of planning. It is really time to target the cause of the cancer and hold those responsible to full account.

    • Leslie Nicholson

      ray you are 100% correct, it is fine to say well the market has made it not worthwhile to keep these plants open. however there must be better planning for the people that loose their jobs. mass unemployment makes for huge social and economic problems around towns that have high reliance on these plants. Port Augusta is now facing that issue 11 months after northern closed

      on another note, it is interesting the the now dead northern had better thermal efficency and was cleaner than some of the plants still running

    • Gary Rowbottom

      Definitely better planning and effective handling of the loss of employment is needed. I worked at the power station in Port Augusta for 17 years and I can vouch for the fact that unemployment at age 55 sucks. A good proportion of the Port Augusta based former power station workforce has found work, albeit in a good many cases not in their home town. That is of no help to those that aren’t amongst that group of course, and can in itself be a social problem, it can be quite divisive, with some people, finding jobs, others not, but thankfully I haven’t come across examples of division from that, I’m glad to say we value our community/friends and are genuinely glad when any of us find work. To make retraining effective, there needs to be jobs to match the training. Of course in Port Augusta’s case the answer has been there all along for a proper transition – to renewable energy. Promise continues to grow, but no shovels in the ground yet on any of the many projects looking our way. Of course I would love for the solar thermal with storage projects to get up for Port Augusta. They would add generation capacity, with the cheapest bulk storage (possible exception PHES), rotating electrical inertia and other FCAS services, and the best number of good jobs, and of course are emission free in operation. None of the other solutions does all of that.

    • Chris O’Neill

      “it is far from it due to toxic destructive political gaming and lack of planning. It is really time to target the cause of the cancer and hold those responsible to full account.”

      That would ultimately be the majority of Australian voters who voted to “Axe The Tax”. Good luck holding them to account.

  • Just_Chris

    The closure of Hazelwood has really brought home to me how perverse the incentives in the NEM are. Engie own Hazelwood, Loy Yang B and Pelican point. Why on earth would they keep Hazelwood running? Closing Hazelwood increases the value of both Pelican point and Loy Yang B dramatically. In particular Loy Yang B, we really need to find a way of getting some competition into the market.

  • Peter Campbell

    Five of the coal power plants were commissioned this century! Two of those have lower efficiency than plants put in 20 years earlier. What were they thinking?

    • Chris Fraser

      Brown coal not as thermally efficient as the Hunter anthracites …

    • Mike

      Kogan dry-cooled…less efficient, but very cheap coal

  • Chris O’Neill

    “While some of the least efficient power stations have been removed, others, such as Yallourn,”

    an appallingly inefficient burner of brown coal,

    “remain in the system.”

    “Policies are still needed to force out the highest emitting stations and to replace their output”

    Indeed we had a policy to force out the worst remaining CO2/kWh generator Yallorn much sooner, but most Australian voters voted in favour of “Axe The Tax”.

    • stalga

      Victoria’s renewable energy targets will help force them out. Engie’s 1000MW solar farm will be another big hit when completed.

  • Tom

    Kogan Creek is more like 40% efficient.

  • stalga

    Good to hear Liddel is the next to go.